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water'dIrrigation systems are very reliable and need little care for the most part. There are a few things that will help keep your system up and running.

The first thing is make sure you water on the correct days and times. Odd address homes water on Wednesday and Saturday, even address homes water on Thursday and Sunday. All watering is to be done before 10:00 and after 4:00. Check when your system is on that all the heads are working and spraying where they are supposed to. Heads that spray onto concrete driveways or sidewalks should be adjusted. Check that no spray is hitting your home also. Check to make sure that all the heads clear your turf and if not you may need to raise them. Some systems will be fairly easy. Just take a shovel around the head and carefully dig next to it and if it is on poly pipe, a black hose, you can usually just lift it up and repack the dirt. If yours is not on poly pipe, you will need to either get taller heads or add an extension to clear the turf.

Be sure to run your system. The valves especially can have trash get in the diaphragm area and gum it up or the valves get sticky and want to not come on or stay on and will not shut off. This seems to happen more with reclaimed water, but can happen to any system. Try to run each zone for a little bit every couple weeks just to keep things working.

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This time of year it’s hot and the flower choices are kind of limited. Some choices you can use are Salvia, Coleus, Pentas, Lantana, and Crotons. W e are kind of in a ‘no man’s land’ for flowers unit fall gets here. You can also use substitutes such as Lilies or Society Garlic or a multitude of perennials that will add color to you landscape. When you choose to go with the Coleus, keep and eye on them and it is OK to trim the tops when the seedheads start to pop up. The darker colored ones will usually grow faster and taller than the yellow will so you may have to prune to keep them at the same height.

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With the recent large amounts of rain and wind each afternoon, it is a good time to make sure any tree limbs are pruned off. High winds can cause a limb to become a projectile and possibly do damage. It is usually better to be proactive in this case to avoid the limb perhaps landing where you don’t want it to.

Tree trimming can be done on small limbs and trees but don’t try to tackle large ones yourself. There are too many cases of people trying to cut a large limb or tree and either hurting them or others or damaging property. Large limbs and trees can twist and turn in unexpected ways and many people have been killed doing what appeared to be a simple job.

Tree trimming is one thing you should consider hiring a professional tree surgeon for. Make sure you have them provide proof of current liability insurance. A reputable company should have no problem doing that as it will separate the Pro’s from the Joe’s.

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This is a good time to make sure your mower blades are sharp. Sharp blades not only make it easier to mow your yard, but makes for healthier turf. By keeping the blades sharp, it allows the grass to be cut and not torn which invites problems for your yard. Try not to cut more than 1/3 the length of the blade at any one time.

This time of year also keep a sharp eye out for pests doing damage to your yard. Grubs, Sod Webworms and Mole Crickets can do a great deal of damage quickly. If you are on a preventative program this should keep them under control as they are easier to kill when young. If you find you have problems now, you can try Dylox or Sevin to control them. Be sure to always follow label directions and wear appropriate protection.

It also is a good idea to make sure your rain sensor is working correctly so you don’t water when not needed. Call the office if you need it checked or contact us to tell you how we can make it so your lawn’s water needs are controlled by the weather automatically and can tailor each zone to its individual needs.

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With the heat reaching near triple digits on a regular basis, it is important to know a few tips for what to plant and transplant now. The first thing to remember is that it is risky to transplant this time of year. The intense heat is very hard on the plants and makes survival less likely. New material you get from potted plants or B&B plants are fine just about anytime.

If you must transplant try to take as much of the root ball as possible. The more dirt you can keep on the roots, the better the chance of survival. Be sure to keep it well watered and put mulch around it to keep as much moisture in as possible. Even with all the care of the dirt, and water, it still will be very risky doing it now. The best times are when it is much cooler out as the heat will not be such a problem.

With perennials and annuals, Marigolds, Red Ti plants, Caladiums,Crotons, some Begonia, Zinnias’, Blue Daze, Geraniums, Lantana, Pentas’ and Periwinkles. All of these will work well this time of year and make a beautiful impact on your landscape. Most of the ones listed can be found at your local garden center of nursery and can make any landscape beautiful and put bright color around your house.

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The new watering guideline notice came recently changing the rules of the game for some of us. In the past there were no restrictions on how you irrigated your turf. The guidelines involved days of the week and times of watering. That has all changed. Starting November 1, only 50 % of the turf area may be irrigated with high flow irrigation which is defined as over 30 gallons per hour. The remaining turf area can not be irrigated. The other stipulation is you can only use micro spray or drip irrigation in your planting beds. High flow irrigation is just about every kind of spray head and rotor on the market. The new rules have been in force in the southern part of Florida for quite a while but it has finally started to work towards us. The new rules will not apply to existing systems or reclaimed water. The new rules will start in St. Johns county for now in our area, but it is only a matter of time before we all will be under the same or similar type of rules

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This time of year the grass has started to grow and you noticed the bare dead spots from the winter damage. Those spots need to be repaired so as not to let weeds get a foot in the door and take over the spot. There are several ways you can fix the problems spots in your yard.

The quickest fix to a bare area is to cut the area out and place in new sod. This will require you remove the dead material and take it down to the bare dirt. Be sure that you don’t cut any irrigation pipes and be careful not to cut cable or phone lines. If you are not sure where they are in your yard you can call and have them marked for free. Next step after getting the area to bare dirt is to get some fresh sod pieces and place them in the area to be repaired. Try to keep the edges tight up against each other and stagger the joints if it is a larger area. When all the pieces are in you will usually not have a perfect fit of sod into the existing lawn. Cut sod with the end of your shovel and piece it in to the areas to fill all the spaces.

The next way is to clean up the dead area and put in plugs. Plugs are small sections of grass that are put in the dirt spaced apart and then allowed to grow in. This method will also work but it will not give the instant results of sod as the plugs will need time to establish and send out runners to fill in the bare spot. You will also need to keep an eye on the weeds and not let them get in and crowd out your new plugs.

With either method you use be sure to water your new grass area daily for at least the first 7-10 days as not to let the area dry out.

Small areas that have dead spots can just have some sand put in the bare spot to give the roots of the surrounding turf something to grab onto and grow in on its own similar to a plug but with out putting any new grass in.

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There is no question that landsacpe lighting adds beauty and value to your home. Lighting can make your home more attractive and give you the ablilty to use outdoor living areas after dark. The problems come in when you notice the lights are not working. In most cases the problem is generally a simple burned out light bulb and is easy to fix. There are a few things to keep in mind when you go about it. First be sure the power is off before you work on any electrical item. If you have determined just on light is out and the others are working, remove the bulb from the fixture. Be sure to notice that bulbs have different markings for watts and degree spread of light depending on the bulb. Replacing a burned out bulb with one of higher wattage could take your system and overload it causing more bulbs to burn out. Be sure to use the same wattage and the same degree spreas on the bulb. The spread is the width of the beam of light. The lower the number, the tighter the beam and the higher the number the bigger the spread. Using the wrong spread may cause the item being lit to not be lit enough or to light up all the areas around and cause it not to stand out as it was designed.

If you are going to change the wattage of the bulbs, be sure to check your voltages with a voltmeter and you do not go to low. Idealy you want 12 volts at each fixture but that is usually not possible. Your system can take some variation from that and you can adjust it by jumping up the terminal board in the transformer to a hihger voltage or try an inline voltage booster.If you dont have any power to your system and you have determined the outlet is working, It may be that your transformer is broken. Check that your timer is working and set correctly. If it checks out, bypass the timer and if still no lights, your transformer is probably bad. If you are going to replace it yourself, be certain to get one with the correct wattage and hook up the wires just as they were removed. Crossing the wires up could change the line voltage and cause you problems with the bulbs. In the event you have some lights working up to a certain point and past that point nothing works, you might have a cut line. To find it go to the last bulb working and pull up the wire and follow it until you find the break. When yo find it, strip back the ends and reconnect them using silicone filled wire nuts or grease caps. Do not use regular wire nuts or black tape. Both will allow water in and you wiill be back to fix it again soon.

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During the winter months irrigation systems typically do not get used as much. There are a couple of things you can do to keep your system in good shape and some easy things you can do to fix a couple of problems. One of the most common things to go wrong is the system not turning on. There are several easy things you can do to check it out and possibly fix. The one we see most often is the rain sensor. If it has rained, the sensor gets wet and causes the system to sense that the yard has been watered and shuts the system down. To check this, turn your timer on and lift up the rain sensor top. If the irrigation starts, replace the top and adjust it back. The other common thing is the timer is not set. Try checking all the settings. That is the day, time, start times for system and zone run times. There should be a booklet for your timer or instructions on the door. If not, you can usually call the manufacturer or download a copy of your manual on line.

Another problem may be that the wires get cut during some sort of digging in the yard. Be sure if you come across any wires that get cut, find both ends and fix them right away. If they get buried back, it is much harder to find them again to repair than when they are exposed. You may also have heads that don’t spray very well or none at all. The problem is often dirt or debris getting in the head and clogging the screens. The easy way to fix this is to open the head of the sprinkler and pull out the screen, clean it and replace the top to the head. this usually will fix the problem.

One last thing to keep in mind is to not water your lawn when it is going to freeze. It may look like a pretty winter wonderland but it is not the best thing for your yard and should no be done.

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